Long-hitter George Bradford of Wilde Lake High School in Columbia made four birdies in a finishing one-under-par 71 to win the Frank Emmet Schoolboy championship by two strokes yesterday at Westwood Country Club in Vienna.
Bradford, 15, son of a minister, became the first black and second-youngest champion of this 57-year-old event. Billy Wolfe won as a junior high student in the 1940s.
Bradford, author of some huge tee shots, visited the woods on the final hole but had a two- or three-shot cushion and smartly scrambled for a bogey to finish with a 54-hole total of 229. Jim Cangiano of Poolesville was second with 75 -- 231, followed by first-round leader Bob Bilbo of Good Counsel, 75 -- 232, and second-round leader Evan Selig of St. Albans, 78 -- 233.
Bradford, winner of last year's Middle Atlantic Junior and an excellent soccer player, broke away from the pack with three back-nine birdies.
After a big drive at the 501-yard 14th hole, he said he tried to hit short of the green with a 3-wood on his 240-yard second shot. The ball landed near players putting on the green and trickled just over the putting surface. "Fore," said Bradford sheepishly.
"I was trying to lay up. I guess it was adrenaline," he said. He two-putted there for his fourth birdie of the day. Owning a lead heading to the final hole, a 425-yard par-4, Bradford pumped another long drive, but it found woods.
Stymied by a tree 10 feet in front of him, he played diagonally back to the fairway, then hit his third shot to the right of the green. He chipped from 80 feet to within two feet for a safe bogey and victory.
"I just wanted to play safe, get five and get out," said Bradford, who plays out of Hobbit's Glen and sometimes takes lessons from PGA Tour pro Fred Funk, the former University of Maryland golf coach.
Bradford started three shots behind Selig and birdied the first hole. "After about seven holes, I was one under, and I just kept it up," said Bradford, who plans to play the area summer junior circuit. He not only knocked the ball far, but for the most part straight, hitting 16 greens in regulation.
Cangiano of Holly Hills, winner of last year's Tournament of Champions and the Nordlinger Cup, tried to mount a charge but his putter wouldn't let him. He lined up an eight-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole that would have narrowed Bradford's lead to one shot, but like most of Cangiano's key putts this week it did not drop.
Selig, still in contention after holing a shot from greenside sand for birdie at 12, fell out with two three-putts and a four-putt on the back nine. Bilbo, who led by four after a first-round 73 only to take eight on his final hole for 84 Tuesday, second round, was back on track but could not catch Bradford.